(This page is a work in progress. I'll continue to work on it in the hopes of creating a valuable resource.)
I'm lucky to have a nice sized kitchen with plenty of cabinet, counter and pantry space. However, if Steve and I ever build another house, I'll increase the size of the kitchen and make some modifications to improve the flow and add commercial grade equipment.
I would love to tell you that I have all the latest, most stylish tools. Truth told, my KitchenAid mixer is 22 years old, and runs just fine, thank you very much. I have two different food processors-one is a La Machine that is circa late 1970's, the other a smaller Krups that I bought in the late 80's. One food processor is plenty for most people. I like to have the larger one for big jobs like pie crust, and the smaller one is perfect for grinding nuts.
If I had to pick the tool I use the most, my Zyliss Garlic Press is the clear winner.
This is the latest model. I bought mine at a store I worked at during my freshman year in college. That was 24 years ago, and it works just as good today as it did then. A good garlic press is an absolute essential.
You need several spatulas, wooden spoons and/or silicone cooking utensils. I can never have enough spatulas. Some are spoon shaped, some are sturdy enough for double batches of cookie dough, some are tiny and perfect for scraping jars and cans.
Other than appliances, pots and pans will be your biggest equipment investment in the kitchen. It doesn't pay to skimp. Twenty years ago, I bought a set of Magnalite, and Le Creuset pots. I still have all of them, and have added a couple Calphalon pieces as well. The initial cost may have been steep, but the return on investment is bigger when you buy quality pieces. I'll be honest, I've purchased some pieces at thrift stores and on Craigslist. This is a great way to get quality for a lower price. TJ Maxx and Marshall's often carry high end cookware at a discount, too.